Patience wears thin for group concerned about hospital

Letter suggests slow response, while MV Hospital CEO says it is hampered by lack of settlement agreement with fired administrator.

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A community group is asking for more community input into Martha's Vineyard Hospital after a summer of controversy. — Stacey Rupolo

A group of Island residents concerned with lack of communication from leadership at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH) is speaking out in an open letter to the community.

Signed by 11 individuals, the letter printed in this week’s MV Times points out who makes up the group, what prompted them to speak out, and what actions they’d like to see from hospital leadership. It comes on the heels of an open letter to the community from acting CEO Timothy Walsh, vowing an effort to engage in more dialogue with the community and detailing the hospital’s use of consultants for a CEO search, its strategic plan, and to help shape policy for its board of directors.

In a conversation this week with The Times, Victor Capoccia, co-chairman of the MVH Concerned Citizens group, said the group’s letter is designed to inform the community about the group, its motives, and the lack of attention it feels the community is getting from the hospital administration.

MVH Concerned Citizens originally sprouted in the aftermath of the firing of CEO Joe Woodin in June. The group has also raised issues with the closing of Wildflower Court at Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which is on the hospital campus in Oak Bluffs.

“This isn’t about firing the CEO. That’s a trigger. It’s indicative. It couldn’t capture better the problem of not taking into account communication in the community,” Mr. Capoccia said. “This is about a long-standing pattern of limited communication and limited listening of the needs of the community.”

While he praised Mr. Walsh’s open letter as an important first step, he was hopeful that hospital leaders would meet with community members in forums where they could listen to feedback.

“I commend that step. That’s a step that hasn’t been taken before,” Mr. Capoccia said. “There’s some effort to try, but the flip side is: Have you heard any follow up? Nothing.”

Appearances before groups like the Dukes County Health Council, where Mr. Walsh spoke recently, isn’t what the group had in mind, Mr. Capoccia said.

Mr. Walsh told The Times Tuesday, he’d like to hold community forums, but can’t because the hospital has yet to settle on a severance package with Mr. Woodin.

“Until we have an agreement, they’re afraid of us saying something to screw it up,” Mr. Walsh said of holding community forums. “The plan is to do it once we settle up and have a resolution.”

According to Mr. Capoccia, a member of the group has audited public comments on news stories and Facebook posts since Mr. Woodin’s firing and found more than 700 posted, a testament to the passion about the hospital on Martha’s Vineyard.

“There’s been no response to that. I don’t know if they see it, listen to it, hear it,” Mr. Capoccia said. “It’s about listening and having an opportunity for two-way communication.”

Mr. Walsh said hospital officials have seen and reviewed many of the comments. The hospital has a fledgling Facebook page of its own and is looking to do more social media down the road with help from Partners Healthcare.

There have been at least two meetings between MVH Concerned Citizens and hospital leaders, as well as a couple of one-on-one talks. The group wants more people to be part of the conversation, Mr. Capoccia said.

Mr. Walsh assured the community that the hospital and its consultants are moving forward. Some CEO candidates have had preliminary interviews and the hospital board is still on a timeline for a mid-December appointment, he said. “There are a lot of really good candidates,” Mr. Walsh said, noting that negative publicity hasn’t appeared to be a deterrent to applicants.

As for those who say the hospital is a private business and doesn’t need to listen to the community, Mr. Capoccia said MV Hospital is a nonprofit, which does have a responsibility to be accountable to the greater community.

While other nonprofits often include details about what they’ve done in the community in annual reports, as well as a financial summary, the hospital’s annual report includes a list of donors. The community needs a better understanding of the hospital, where it’s headed, and how its board of directors are connected to the Island, Mr. Capoccia said.

“This is not about tearing down,” Mr. Capoccia said of the group’s letter. “We want (the hospital) to succeed. The path they’re on is underwhelming.”

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4 COMMENTS

  1. This has nothing to do with the community and the notion that because it is a non profit it does owe allegiance to the community is nonsense. This is a private personnel matter involving termination and that subject is not for the ears of the community. There is no signed severance agreement and the Board is being prudent in not discussing anything until the entire issue is wrapped up legally. This is just a perverse curiosity by some to know why the CEO was let go. We cant run a hospital by committee or community. There is an interim CEO and a diverse Board who are charged with the responsibility. Is anyone really afraid that MV Hospital wont live up to its responsibilities. I think not.

  2. Who talks to a hospital? I talk to my doctors, their assistants, nurses, technicians, and occasionally to an office person when I need copies of records. MV Hospital is not perfect, but the quality of care is excellent and the experience of having to be in the hospital is great, considering youre in a hospital, better by far than other places I’ve been. It’s also beautiful. Even the ER, despite long waits in the summer because there are not enough doctors, is very reassuring to have there. The weird thing is that this group demanding more community input agrees that the quality of care is excellent. I really do not understand why a community needs to get this involved here. Is it they’re upset that board members are wealthy or that they want to have more say in how their personal donations are being spent? Or, is this because of the recent firing, which I wonder if it is as much the community’s business as this group seems to think? I donate to non-profits all the time, but I don’t feel the need to control how they hire, fire, spend or organize themselves. And board members of non-profits are mostly always wealthy– because they donate the most to the places they care the most about. I see nothing wrong with that. If you don’t want to donate to our hospital, don’t. But I am sure when you get chest pains, you’ll be very happy they’re there and doing exactly what they’re doing in our community. There’s plenty else on-island that needs looking into and deserving of being challenged by the community these days. I just don’t understand why this group is focused on how our excellent hospital is run.

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